BEND, Ore. - Political pundits and many others say the first debate is the most important for the candidates to establish themselves.
If they have a solid performance, they can build on that in the additional debates. And that's good news for Mitt Romney, who both Democrats and Republicans say did a good job Wednesday night.
The 70 Democrats watching the first of three presidential debates at the Silver Moon Brewing Company in downtown Bend obviously were a little biased towards who they thought won.
"I think he stayed reasonable, calm, confident in the way he presented himself, like most of the time we see him," said Laurie Gould, Deschutes County Democrats' chairwoman.
They cheered for what the president had to say, and booed at what Gov. Mitt Romney had to say.
Gould says Romney is behind in many of the polls, and that she didn't believe Wednesday night's showing will bring his numbers up.
"I really think he needed to knock it into the bleachers and into the fences," said Gould. "And I don't think he did that tonight."
As you might expect, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., thinks differently.
NewsChannel 21 spoke with him via satellite from his office in Washington, D.C.
"These debates, they hyped around here and there, but I thought he (Romney) really delivered," Walden said. "He needed to have a strong performance tonight, and I think he did."
Walden says it was President Obama who looked flat.
"I thought the president was a little off, frankly, not as eloquent as we sometimes see him," Walden said. "He's a very accomplished speaker, as you know."
The two candidates seemed like they were running their own debate, leaving moderator Jim Lehrer not in command.
"I feel really sorry for anybody who tries to moderate these two guys," Gould said.
Gould says both candidates were well-prepared, sharp and tried to get their message through, despite not really paying attention to what the moderator had to say.
"It's going to be interesting to see how they continue to push themselves," Gould said. "And what they want to say, regardless of how much time is on the clock."
Walden says the two candidates will now study the tape like a college football game and sharpen their skills for the next two debates.
"I thought Governor Romney was very clear, very specific, and he was able to respond to some of the attacks that have been laid against him that simply lacked basis of fact," Walden said.
"President Obama, he pushed back, said, 'You know, what I'm doing is working, and we will do it again for the next four years,'" the congressman added. "I'm not sure that is the strongest sales argument. I would make if I were him, with 43 months of unemployment over 8 percent and 23 million Americans not working. I think there's a clear choice here."
When NewsChannel 21 asked Walden what the headlines will be from this debate, his response: "Romney gives strong performance, president flat."